Category Archives: Computers

MySQL App User Privileges

Here is a basic MySQL tip regarding application users:

When building applications that use MySQL, it is a best practice to create a MySQL application user that is dedicated to your app and has privileges to access only the database it is assigned.

With the latest version of phpMyAdmin, you can do this all in one step in the Add New User screen. Look for this fieldset and check the “Create database with same name and grant all privileges” box:

Database for user

You can then retract privileges from the given database, i.e. like if the app is only going to need SELECT and you are uploading tables manually, then you can uncheck everything except the SELECT box. Or maybe the user needs only standard CRUD operations, in which you can assign it SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE, and DELETE. As a best practice, you want your user to only have the minimum amount of privileges it needs for the app to function.

TextMate buggy?

It may be just me, but TextMate appears to be the crashy-est program in my arsenal of web development tools. It seems to regularly occur when bringing up dialog boxes, such as a find/replace box. This is starting to bum me out at close to 1 AM as I try to finish my homework…

Pimp my Reader

I am a fan of the Google Reader application for managing my RSS subscriptions. The advantage of having all my feeds organized in one convenient web repository is proving to be quite handy (much as del.icio.us has been for bookmarks) and I like Readers’ own ability to produce new RSS feeds from my content categories.

But the UI, much like a lot of Google’s apps, leaves a lot to be desired. (Gmail – I’m looking at you.)

Fortunately, Jon Hicks has put some lipstick on this pig. Enter Google Reader Theme. Installation is fairly trivial, and the result is a more pleasant and usable interface. As of this writing, it works for Firefox, Camino, Opera, Omniweb, and Safari.

Nice work! Looks much better now – thank you.

Jon also mentions he was using CSSEdit for the skinning work. I like this tool – have been using it since somewhere in the 1.x days. I find it very useful for quickly digesting the styles in an existing theme, such as an open-source project that I want to skin by leveraging existing styles. For starting from scratch, nothing can beat TextMate or Dreamweaver for cranking out standards-compliant XHTML and CSS in rapid-fire mode.

This is a great capability, to be able to create your own skins for sites you visit frequently. User customization supports even further the idea that we as web developers need to continue to separate content from design as much as possible, to produce semantic, meaningful markup, and to make our code as simple and as well-documented (self-documenting/semantic) as you can.

AppleTV and iTMS

I had my first look at an AppleTV yesterday. Two things I could say right off the bat:

  1. The user interface is spectacular
  2. Why would you want to show sub-par quality videos on HDTV??

The user interface was incredibly easy to use. The only complaint I have is that the remote is small and feels cheap. On the other hand, it’s probably cheap to replace… those things have got to have a lifespan when small children are involved. In fact, the user interface was just startling – it was so simple to get at just about every bit of digital media I wanted to on the system. Very impressive. Selecting things to listen to or watch was such a piece of cake. And the Photos features were spectacular – very cool stuff.

So now really my complaint is the downloads from the iTunes Music Store, which is no longer solely a music store, nor does the “tunes” part really fit the iTunes brand. But I digres… the main point is that the quality of the videos one downloads from the iTMS are obviously not HDTV quality – the are jagged and grainy. The target market here cannot be the traditional Mac-using designer base, because obviously those folks all have their high-resolution monitors and are used to looking at imagery in excruciating detail. But even a casual user should notice that these downloaded video files, be they music videos, TV shows, or movies, all look poor on HDTV systems. The HDTV actually amplifies the poor quality of the media. These things look spectacular on iPod Videos, and presumably will do so as well on the iPhones, but that’s about the limit. Thinks like podcasts I can understand. But for movies, I really don’t see the point in downloading from iTMS for a low-quality video at this point.

Another thing I don’t like about the downloads is the lack of subtitles and closed captioning. This is an enormous omission for persons who cannot hear or speak different languages. Even an English language track with English subtitles can help someone who does not speak English all that well get more comprehension from the show, and I am seriously concerned about deaf users being completely left out of the loop on this one.

What I’d like to see on the iTunes Music Store includes:

  • An option to get a discounted purchase the full commercial DVD-version of the programming.
  • Video downloads with subtitle tracks and closed-captioning functionality
  • Higher-quality video downloads

While I’m a big fan of the music offerings of iTMS, I think the video offerings leave a lot to be desired.